With the harbor continuing to run deficits close to $50k, Cape Charles Town Council has sanctioned the formation of a “six-member focus group consisting of the harbor master and assistant harbor master along with a number of stakeholders.” On Thursday Town Council appointed Dora Sullivan as the town’s representative to the group. Along with Sullivan, the group is made up of harbormaster Charlie Farlow, Bob Panek, Tim Wivell, and Tom Bonadeo.
The focus group’s main task is to develop a plan for the future direction of the harbor. Facilities and services, including infrastructure and possible funding streams are all on the table for review. Eventually, a proposed plan would be presented to the Town Council for review.
During discussion, Mayor Proto noted that one of the avenues he wants the group to explore is the possibility of retaining a management company to take over “operations at the harbor.” In conversations with boaters, some that have moved to the Oyster Farm marina with Smitty Dize, turning the harbor over to a for-profit management firm has been the end game all along.
While a professional management team may make operational sense, how that will improve the harbor’s ability to draw in boaters is still a question. The focus group will have to determine if the empty transient slips all summer were due to operational issues, or other external factors.